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The Racist History of America's Patriotic Anthems

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Then there’s the American anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was written by a slave-owning Washington lawyer, Francis Scott Key, who referred to African-Americans as “a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community.” In the national anthem’s lesser known third stanza, he wrote: “No refuge could save the hireling and slave / From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.”


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